This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, and while teachers around the country will be treated to apples on desks and Starbucks giftcards, here at Full Court Press we’re honoring teachers by reflecting upon the powerful impact a teacher can have. In our work with education organizations such as EducationSuperHighway, Peralta Community College District, and the California Acceleration Project, we’ve seen how much work is being done to try to improve education systems. One thing we can agree upon is the need to appreciate, encourage, and cultivate more life-changing teachers like the ones we celebrate today.
Today and every day, FCP celebrates a lifelong love of learning, and a deep appreciation for those who teach and cultivate it. We had the FCP staff share some reflections on teachers who have had a lasting impact on them below:
Audrey: The most inspirational teacher in my life is by far my mother, Barbara Porro. Ms. Porro taught in the classroom for a combined 25 years, teaching hundreds kindergartners, first and second graders how to read, write, add, subtract, and develop as children. My mother parented and taught me for the 25 years I’ve been alive, teaching me how to read, write, add, subtract, and develop into the person I am today.
While she was raising me, Barbara simultaneously wrote a best-selling book, Talk It Out, which presents an effective, proven approach that turns conflict into opportunities to communicate effectively, solve problems and deepen relationships. The conflict management and communications lessons I’ve learned from my mom are skills I use every day at work, with friends and family. Thanks for being extraordinary and inspiring, mom!
Dan: William Wemple taught me High School US History. He served in the navy and it defined him in so many ways. He wore close cropped hair, stood ramrod straight and had a military leader’s sense of humor – quick, sharp, and sly. He brought US history alive for me.
He humanized our nation’s leaders and the decisions they made. In many ways, he steered me towards a life of civic engagement. Reminding me that our leaders are people, just like you and me, led me to believe I could contribute and not be awed. This belief has taken me to city halls, state capitols, and even Congress supporting the issues I care about and the elected leaders I believe in.
Caitlin: Professor John Gates teaches Constitutional Law in the Political Science department at UC Davis. I took several classes from him while attending UC Davis, including courses on Free Speech as afforded by the 1st Amendment and Equal Protection Under the Law as afforded by the 14th Amendment. With his soft New Orleans drawl, Professor Gates helped me fully understand my constitutional rights in this country and how they expand and contract within our modern government.
I can say for sure I never would have memorized the Bill of Rights if it wasn’t for his quiz on it that I nearly overslept my junior year. But I am so grateful for this knowledge because I now know how to effectively advocate for myself. I didn’t know it while I was attending UC Davis, but this knowledge of our Constitution would become vital in 2017 as our current administration takes steps to erode citizens’ constitutional rights.
Erika: I’ve been lucky to have many amazing teachers, but one I will always remember is Mona Alvarez, my fourth grade teacher. Mrs. Alvarez was spry and funny, the energetic “cool” teacher that everyone wanted to have. But, more than that, she was deeply and palpably enthusiastic about her work. When she came in every day and gave teaching her all, it encouraged her students to do the same.
She taught me early on the reward of effort and enthusiasm. She made me come to school excited to be in class, and that excitement spread into an excitement to learn and grow, feeding my curiosity. This fostered in me not only a fourth-grade penchant for reading and times table memorization, but a lifelong love of learning.